Bangalore to Trivandrum: Orange AC Sleeper

An urgent need to travel to Trivandrum came out of the blue. The trip was decided with just a few days to go, and the travel was on a Friday from Bengaluru! Since my brother and his family was traveling along, we had to travel by a Sleeper bus. It had to be an AC bus as well. A quick search on Redbus revealed a lot of options to pick from. We went by the ratings on redbus, and some enquiries through my friend network. I finally selected Orange Travels. Tickets weren't very cheap, and they were fairly expensive after the taxes were added.

July 07, 2017:
I reached home around 1700hrs, after a fairly tiring day at work. I had been receiving messages from Orange Travels with details of my bus from morning. We had to leave home by around 1830hrs in order to finish our dinner, and then board the bus that departs at 2015hrs. After hurrying with packing, we set off in an Uber towards Madiwala. The first task to finish our dinner - we picked Swaadam Veg Restaurant for dinner - delicious Laccha Parathas with Mushroom curry.  We took our time to finish our dinner - the plan to minimise the time we had to spend standing on the road.

The bus working our route (OTT1009) pulled in to Madiwala by around 2005hrs - ten minutes before departure time. The road was chocked and there was no place to park - the driver just pulled off the main lane, and he had to finish boarding quickly. We had quite some baggage - they were left in the boot. All pick-ups were completed, and we got moving by 2018hrs - three minutes before time.
The bus after reaching Trivandrum..

This was my first journey in regular AC Sleeper - my earlier rides had been on Coronas and once on a Volvo Sleeper. The bus I was travelling on was built by Veera Vahana (in November 2016) on an Ashok Leyland 12M chassis, powered by a 225hp CRS engine. I had selected a berth in a lower double berth - and my berth was the one along the window. The berth was long enough, and had adequate width as well. The AC appeared to be on steroids - it was running at the highest blower speed all the time - the air pressure was so high that it would always keep the vents either fully opened, or shut. The berth also had a reading lamp, and a night lamp in each berth. A snack box (containing biscuits, mixture and a slice of cake) and a well packed fleece blanket was placed on the berth. Water bottles were distributed after all pick-ups were over.
The snack box..

Meanwhile, the bus was wading through traffic around Madiwala market. Traffic eased out after Silkboard flyover, and we took the elevated road towards Electronic City. The driver meant business right from the word go. The bus was fast - and I was enjoying the engine notes. We stopped after Electronic city toll (2055hrs) to pick a passenger, and continued towards Trivandrum. Although the berth had an LED screen, it was not switched on (I think that was a great decision, though). I tuned in to a movie on my phone (which is my routine). We had another pick-up at Bommasandra (2103hrs). The bus picked good pace after Hosur - I was enjoying the pace. The driver did make some rash moves - which is not a great idea for a sleeper bus, IMO.

The bus pulled into Hotel Nandini (aka the 'dreaded' Uthaiyya) for dinner, at 2149hrs. I had a quick visit to the rest room, and then spent time roaming around the parking area. The area was chocked with buses. We started off from there at 2218hrs. I remained awake till the movie I was watching finished. It was a bit of a struggle to sleep - it took quite some time getting used to the horizontal sways of the coach. The driver was pushing the bus hard, and the engine note was music to my ears! With continued struggle, I somehow fell asleep.
When we stopped for dinner..

I woke up hearing the attendant calling out a 'toilet break' - the time was 0426hrs - at a 'Hotel Tamilnadu', near Sattur. It looked like a makeshift hotel - the toilet was rip-off charging hefty sum from users. We started off from there at 0433. I fell asleep soon after we started from there. This was again a good long sleep - undisturbed till we reached Marthandam (0730hrs). The pace reduced as we entered Kerala - I think the traffic was high despite being a holiday. We stopped at Parassala check-post for about 10 minutes (until 0810hrs). The driver tried desperately to make up for lost time - his efforts were in vain as inspectors from the excise department flagged down our bus at Amaravila checkpost. Almost 10 minutes were lost here as well, and we left only by 0832hrs. We had drop at Kaimanam and Karamana en route. The bus finally pulled in to Thampanoor (Aristo Junction) by 0919hrs - some 49 minutes behind schedule.
Contents of the snack box..

Closing notes: The bus, AR-02-5711, had clocked a little over 1 lakh kms. The bus appeared very well maintained. There were no rattles from the body. The crew were well behaved - the driving was a little 'rash' though. The bus was fairly punctual - the delay at the end point could be attributed to the checking, which delayed our progress, and increased chances of traffic. Was, overall, a good experience. 

Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: Yes
Charging Point: Available, Worked.
Entertainment: Available, Not used.

Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 4/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 4/5 (49 minutes late at arrival)

Overall: 4.5/5

Pros: Good berth, fairly on time, no-nonsense service.
Cons: Driving could've been better, Fares were high!

Will I take this service again? Its a good option, worth trying again!